Hiker survives 30-foot fall, broken arm and cold night in Sequoia National Park

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An incredible rescue in the Sequoia National Park after a woman survives a 30-foot drop into the Kaweah River. (KFSN)

An incredible rescue in the Sequoia National Park after a woman survives a 30-foot drop into the Kaweah River. The California Highway Patrol shared video of her daring rescue near Marble Falls.

Sam Wilson was on her own for 24 hours before the rescue. With a broken arm, deep cuts and scrapes all over her body she made peace with dying on the banks of the Kaweah River. That was, unless she survived the first night then the fight was on.

"It felt mostly just like preservation," Wilson told Action News in her only on-camera interview. "It's what I had to do."

Sam is home in North Hollywood recovering from severe injuries. The worst she told Action News during a FaceTime interview is a broken arm.


Sam took a picture Friday just before her quick day hike turned into the fight of her life. "In the process, my backpack fell down into the water," she said. "Ugh, my wallet's in there I've got to get down there at get it. So I scrambled down to get the bag."

She got the bag but slipped on the way up. Sam tumbled down the steep granite hillside 15 feet and then a 15-foot freefall into the river.

"I looked down and my hand was hanging in between my legs lower than it should have been," Wilson said.

The shock prevented her from feeling it, but she knew her arm was broken. Sam dragged herself to the river bank and screamed for help as she entered survival mode.

"So I took the hood off my jacket and I was able to put my elbow in the middle of the hood," she said. "Then I took my handkerchief and was able to pull my arm up against my chest. Then I took my jackets and tied that around my arm and around my waste, to snug it up against my body. Then I was able to sit on the side of the hill and push myself up about five feet from the water."

Saturday afternoon hikers heard the screams and blows from her whistle. Eventually Sequoia National Park officials reached her on foot and the CHP from overhead.

Andrea Brown is the officer in the rescue video. "She was very animated with her eyes," Brown said. "I couldn't see the lower part of her face, but i could tell by her eyes that she was pretty excited."

Brown says on the way out, in incredible pain, Sam still tried to take in the park's beauty.

"I called her a tough stud muffinette because those are tough conditions by yourself at night," Officer Brown said. "I'm amazed she survived, just the will to survive, a tough young lady."

"I felt so safe at that point in time I thought how cool to see Sequoia from a helicopter," Wilson joked.

There's laughter now, Sam says because of the large team and brave hikers that rescued her.

Sam is a well-traveled and experienced hiker who has all the survival tools. She just didn't take them on what was supposed to be a short hike. She says that won't happen ever again.



Related Topics:
rescuecalifornia highway patrolSequoia National Park
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